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Evaluation of High Cholesterol and Risk of Dementia and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults Using Individual Patient Meta-Analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Carol Jagger


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© 2021 S. Karger AG. All rights reserved.Introduction: Although increased cholesterol level has been acknowledged as a risk factor for dementia, evidence synthesis based on published data has yielded mixed results. This is especially relevant in older adults where individual studies report non-linear relationships between cholesterol and cognition and, in some cases, find higher cholesterol associated with a lower risk of subsequent cognitive decline or dementia. Prior evidence synthesis based on published results has not allowed us to focus on older adults or to standardize analyses across studies. Given our ageing population, an increased risk of dementia in older adults, and the need for proportionate treatment in this age group, an individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis is timely. Method: We combined data from 8 studies and over 21,000 participants aged 60 years and over in a 2-stage IPD to examine the relationship between total, high-density, and low-density lipoprotein (HDL and LDL) cholesterol and subsequent incident dementia or cognitive decline, with the latter categorized using a reliable change index method. Results: Meta-analyses found no relationship between total, HDL, or LDL cholesterol (per millimoles per litre increase) and risk of cognitive decline in this older adult group averaging 76 years of age. For total cholesterol and cognitive decline: odds ratio (OR) 0.93 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.86: 1.01) and for incident dementia: OR 1.01 [95% CI 0.89: 1.13]. This was not altered by rerunning the analyses separately for statin users and non-users or by the presence of an APOE e4 allele. Conclusion: There were no clear consistent relationships between cholesterol and cognitive decline or dementia in this older adult group, nor was there evidence of effect modification by statin use. Further work is needed in younger populations to understand the role of cholesterol across the life-course and to identify any relevant intervention points. This is especially important if modification of cholesterol is to be further evaluated for its potential influence on risk of cognitive decline or dementia.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Peters R, Xu Y, Antikainen R, Beckett N, Gussekloo J, Jagger C, Jukema JW, Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi S, Ryden L, Skoog I, Staessen JA, Thijs L, Trompet S, Tully PJ, Tzourio C, Anstey KJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders

Year: 2021

Volume: 50

Pages: 318-325

Online publication date: 01/11/2021

Acceptance date: 20/04/2020

ISSN (print): 1420-8008

ISSN (electronic): 1421-9824

Publisher: S. Karger AG


DOI: 10.1159/000519452

PubMed id: 34700321


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